Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thanksgiving Down Under

Although I completely understand why, I have to admit that I was still a bit thrown off that Thanksgiving wasn’t celebrated here in Australia.  How U.S.-centric of me, right?  But I mean really, why Aussie’s wouldn’t celebrate this American holiday is just beyond me.  But so are a lot of things here.  Anyway, needless to say, the actual DAY of Thanksgiving was quite underwhelming- no day off, no Macy’s day parade, no turkey, etc.

The day after Thanksgiving here- which was actually Thanksgiving day in the U.S. (welcome to my life of adding/subtracting hours and working out being a day ahead of everyone), was a little more exciting since I got to video chat with lots of my friends and family during their Thanksgiving festivities.   I love run-on sentences.  And fragments.  Lauren, can you correct that for me? Or maybe you better not.  My parents and brother spent Thanksgiving outside of Philadelphia with some of my mom’s extended family.  It was so fun to talk to everyone and see everyone thanks to FaceTime.  But I won’t deny that it made me pretty sad at the same time.  On this day 14,000 miles seemed EXTRA far away.  I promptly called my sister in Washington to commiserate that neither of us were there.  I also got to talk to my grandma and my dad’s extended family back in Phoenix.  I love you FaceTime and Google Video Chat!

To distract myself from being a little homesick, I got started on my long list of items that needed preparation for the Friendsgiving dinner David and I were hosting on Sunday.  This was my first time hosting Thanksgiving (or any type of gathering with a meal really), and man it was seriously a lot of work!  Add to that some difficulty in finding typical Thanksgiving dish ingredients and the world’s smallest oven, and I was definitely a little more than stressed about the whole thing.  Here are some of the dishes I made in progress:
Pioneer Woman Dinner Rolls - Definitely underestimated the amount the dough would rise!
Cinnamon Toasted Almonds, Pie Crusts, Stuffing, Gravy
My favorite apple pie! (Forgot to get a picture after it baked)

I was most nervous about the turkey.  It just seemed like such a daunting task.  I regretted not helping or at least watching my mom prep the turkey all those years.  I tend to get a bit squeamish with raw meat, so I always just avoided that part.  Well anyway, with a little (ok a lot) of help from my mom, my sister, my friend Anne who is an amazing cook, YouTube, and a few other websites, I am happy to report that my turkey turned out great!  I actually made two turkeys, since the largest turkey I could find was 10 pounds- and we were having 15 people over.  I made one the night before and the other the day of.  So glad I did it that way!

Being grossed out at the prospect of getting up close and personal with this raw turkey.  
Turkey 1 and Turkey 2 (stuffed) - both successes!
Carved turkeys

Our guests also brought either a favorite side dish or dessert, so we had TONS of food!  Here’s a look at the spread:
And everyone appropriately stuffing their faces:
I’d say it was a success! 

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving weekend with friends and family!   

Here are some of the recipes I used if anyone’s interested:

Pioneer Woman Gravy:

Bon Appetite Herb Roasted Turkey:

Martha Stewart Pie Crusts:
Martha Stewart Pumpkin Mousse Pie:

And a few other recipes that I’m probably forgetting or that don’t have a web link…

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

A very happy Thanksgiving to my friends and family back in the U.S.!!  I so wish I could be there to celebrate and stuff my face with you all.  But I am so thankful to have so many people to miss and love in the first place! 

Today (or yesterday, depending on when you're reading this) was the actual day of Thanksgiving here in Australia.  However, Australians don't celebrate Thanksgiving, so it mostly felt like just another day- no days off, no parades, no turkeys.  David and I will celebrate with a traditional Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday with about 12 other Americans here at our house.  (Wish me luck as I act like I know what I'm doing in hosting this many people for a big meal- eek!) 

My parents and brother are in Pennsylvania for the holiday with my mom's side of the family.  I got to Facetime with them today (Wednesday for them) for a while, and it was so fun to see everyone- aunts, uncles, cousins, grandma, dogs, etc. Although, after that I was a little teary-eyed off and on throughout the day.  I guess the holidays just make that 14,000 miles seem even farther away... but thank God for technology!  It was so neat to see everyone together, and I almost felt like I was there.  Almost. Aside from the important things (friends, family, health, happiness), I do have to say that technology may be one of the things I am most thankful for this year :-)  


Happy Thanksgiving from down under, everyone!  And good luck to any Black Friday shoppers out there, too!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Show and Tell Monday: Gobble Gobble

Today I'm going to try my first link-up and participate in From Mrs. To Mama's weekly "Show and Tell Monday!"  With Thanksgiving coming up, and being so far away from friends and family (not to mention in a country where we're 2 weeks away from summer), I thought this might help get me more in the Thanksgiving spirit!

This Week's Questions: Gobble Gobble

1. Tell us about your family traditions for Thanksgiving.

Ever since I was a kid, I've always loved to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade on Thanksgiving morning.  It just doesn't feel like Thanksgiving until the parade is over!  If we're celebrating with my side of the family, then I usually begin to help my mom prepare the meal.  But let me be truthful- I'm no help with anything substantial like turkey or potatoes- I stick to baking my favorite: apple pie!  My family always participates in your standard traditional Thanksgiving feast- tons of tryptophan, carbs, and desserts!  Again, if we're celebrating with my family in Arizona, there are always tons of cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. around.  A few years ago, my cousins and I started a new Thanksgiving Day tradition- pre-dinner tequila shots!  So random, but now so festive for us :-)  We can usually get many of our aunts and uncles to participate too.  It definitely makes for a lively dinner!  :-)  Later that night, we usually go see a movie with any family member who's up for it. Last year was the first year we celebrated Thanksgiving in Austin with David's family.  Since most of his extended family lives overseas, we celebrated with just his immediate family and some of their family friends.  They also have a pretty traditional Thanksgiving feast- with a few Persian dishes mixed in.  

This year will be very different.  Australia doesn't celebrate Thanksgiving obviously, so there are no days off of work.  In a moment of insanity, I decided it would be a good idea for me to host about 15 people for Friendsgiving on the Sunday after Thanksgiving.  Eeeek!  I've never hosted something like that before... not to mention that I've never made a turkey.  Let's just not mention that to our guests.... Wish me luck!

2. Tell us about your favorite foods.

Honestly, I'm not HUGE on turkey.  My absolute favorite is the stuffing.  And it has to be my mom's stuffing.  It's just incredible!  And of course because I have a huge sweet tooth, I also love the desserts... if I could, I would have one of each dessert, but I usually stick to apple pie. 

3. Show us a picture that reminds you of this holiday.

Apple Pie- my FAVORITE!
 This was the year my parents were having their kitchen renovated.  That didn't stop us; it just meant the turkey went on the grill!  It was delicious!

I think this was the inaugural year of the T-giving tequila shot. 

4. Tell us, do you wait to decorate for Christmas before or after Thanksgiving?

Definitely after!  I'm always tempted to decorate before, but I hate to just skip right over my Thanksgiving and fall decor.  But that doesn't stop me from listening to Christmas music well before Thanksgiving :-)

5. Tell us what you are thankful for this year.

Although I am tens of thousands of miles away from my family and friends in the United States, I am so thankful that my husband and I have this wonderful opportunity to live and travel abroad.  I am also thankful for the wonderful people we have met here so far, who we are looking forward to celebrating Friendsgiving with.  And of course, I am thankful for the support of our families while we are on this journey! 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Three Oh

Today, this handsome guy turns the big 3-0!
Happy 30th birthday to my wonderful husband, my other half, my best friend- David!  I'll spare the blog world from too much mushy gushy, but I do want to say that I am so grateful that he was born on this day 30 years ago.  Thank you, David, for all that you do!  Can't wait to see what your next 30 years brings :-) 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Automated Response: In Paradise :-)

If you're reading this post this weekend, I am happy to report that I am stranded on a tropical island (by choice, of course).  To celebrate his big 3-0, I'm stealing David away from work this weekend for a trip to Heron Island in the Great Barrier Reef!

Can't wait to update with tons of pictures when we return!


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

I’ve Always Wanted an Accent

Like most people, I’ve always loved accents: Southern accents, British accents, Australian accents, whatever the accent is… they just always sound so much more glamorous.  And interesting.  And fancy.  Well, little did I know until moving down under, I apparently DO have an accent. 

Since moving here, I’ve been asked more times than I can count where my accent is from.  I think it is safe to assume that as Americans, we tend to think that we don’t HAVE accents.  I know that’s how I’ve always thought about it. So when people ask me this, it really surprises me- and sometimes even makes me laugh.  

Accent?  Me?  Have you HEARD yourself talk… “mate?!” 

I mean, I grew up in Arizona for crying out loud!  No accents there.  Right?

What’s even stranger to me is when people guess where I’m from based on my supposed accent.  The most common is Canada.  But I’ve also had people ask if I’m from South Africa, or the strangest- Eastern Europe.  To be completely honest (and probably pretty politically incorrect), I think that most Australians expect Americans to have a Southern accent (I’ve seen “Sweet Home Alabama” on TV countless times here) OR a “red-neck accent,” so if you don’t sound like either of those stereotypes, you must not be American.   

But I’m fine with it. I’ve always wanted an accent, so to think that I’ve magically acquired one is just fine by me!  Now I have that fancy accent I had always wanted J

Monday, November 12, 2012

My New Bird Friend...

Australia has some seriously weird different animal life.  I knew to expect the ginormous bugs, snakes, etc., but what I did not expect was the crazy amount of birds that are so different than anything I’m used to seeing in the States. 
On the positive side of things, I still can’t get over the fact that I see kookaburras on a daily basis.  There is a big eucalytus tree (or gum tree) across the street from our house where heaps of them can always be found. 
Each morning at around 5 AM (unfortunately, I know this because I am usually up at this hour to take David to work), you can hear them doing their crazy kookaburra call/laugh.  I kid you not, it sounds like monkeys laughing.  Not that I’ve ever heard monkeys laugh, but if they did laugh it would totally sound just like THIS
Recently, this bird has started occupying our little porch area.  He sits right by the window and just stares at you.   In this picture, he’s fluffing his feathers for me.  So cute and harmless, right?

I recently learned that this bird is called a magpie (which is why I named the one in the picture above Maggie, duh).  I also recently learned that this is their breeding season.  Apparently, these suckers get extremely territorial during their breeding season, and if you happen to be out walking or God forbid, riding a bike, they seriously will start swooping at you trying to peck your head. I swear- I couldn’t make this up if I tried.

I didn’t believe it, until on my way to work the other morning I saw a little girl getting swooped/stalked by one as the poor thing rode her bike to school.  To protect themselves from these attacks, Aussies do this to their bike helmets.
Between the deadly snakes, crazy scary ocean-life, and spiders the size of your face, I’m not sure if I’ll make it out of here alive. 

Friday, November 09, 2012

Brizzy - Part 3 (aka Marsupial Overload!)

Tuesday, October 2
Shortly after I learned that we would be moving to Australia, I read about the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane.  Visiting this zoo immediately went to the top of my “Australia To Do” list.  I mean come on, you get to HOLD A KOALA and pet kangaroos- who wouldn’t want to experience that?!  I was seriously obsessed with the idea of holding a cute, cuddly koala from that moment on.  And when the day finally came for us to visit Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, I was 5-year-old-child-on-Christmas-morning GIDDY!  I’m fairly certain that David thought I was crazy.

As the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is about 30 minutes outside of the city, we opted to take a boat cruise down the river that drops you off right at the zoo.  The tour took about an hour, and it was interesting to see the sights along the way and hear some of the history of the city. 

I could go on and on about how much fun we had here and what an amazing experience it was, not to mention what a nice and well-maintained zoo it was, but I will try and refrain from doing so, and just let the pictures do the talking.



Tasmanian Devils (Tazzy Devils)




The kangaroo habitat was this HUGE, open field area where there were literally at least 50 kangaroos and wallabies just hopping around.  You were allowed to go in and out of the enclosure as much as you wanted, and you could buy kangaroo food for $2.  I was totally surprised at how docile the kangaroos were. It was almost as if they couldn’t be bothered by the crowds of people wandering around.  They would let you pet them without any hesitation or fear.  Even the mama kanga’s would let you pet them and their joey’s- which really surprised me.  You’ll see a little joey in one of the photos below, AND if you look closely in another photo, you’ll see a mama kanga with a bulging pouch.  It was cah-razy to see a pretty decent sized joey climb right in there.  It was a truly amazing experience- they are SUCH beautiful and unique animals. 


And now, my favorite- the koalas!  First of all, I must tell you that they are NOT Koala BEARS. Aussie’s do not like it if you call them bears, and are very quick to remind you that they are not bears.  J  There were seriously probably over 100 koalas in the sanctuary in various pens and exhibits.  And you better believe I paid the $16 to have my photo taken holding a koala.  As my friend Kayli said, “$16 for a lifetime of happiness is a small price to pay.”  I totally agree!  The koala I held was named Finn, and as you can see, he loved me very much.  They really are very cuddly, and when the handler handed him over to me he kind of “sighed” and then just cuddled right up.  I had serious thoughts about trying to get one home with me, but was unsuccessful.  I did, however, take so many pictures of the koalas that the camera battery died (no joke!), and I had to resort to cell phone photos.  Yes, I went a little overboard… I just couldn’t get enough koala cuteness!  It was neat to learn about the koalas- how they sleep about 20 hours a day, that their cute little koala bums are speckled to camoflauge them when they are up high in the trees, that they are one of the only creatures that can digest eucalyptus leaves and that it takes a ton of energy to digest which is why they sleep so much, and that ALL baby marsupials are called joey’s- not just baby kangaroos. 

They look so awkward walking on the ground 

 See the joey on the mama's back above?
Me and Finn!!!
WHEN you come to visit us in Australia ;-), you MUST visit the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary!  I definitely already can’t wait to go back.